RCW: A Look Back 4.31
In anticipation of this week’s Street Pole Vault event in conjunction with the 91st Kansas Relays, let’s take A Look Back at the evolution of the pole vault pole, and its role in the increased explosiveness of the sport.
The material of the pole is of the utmost importance in the execution of the pole vault. Vaulters load energy into the pole, which, when released, transfers energy into their bodies, sending them high into the air. The only way this is feasible is with a bendy, springy, flexible pole. Original poles used for vaulting were made of hardwood and had minimal bend, making it difficult to transfer horizontal energy into vertical motion. Quickly, the shift was made to bamboo poles, which were hollow and somewhat flexible, allowing for higher jumps, although they were also more easily broken than the solid hardwood poles.
The biggest technological advancement in pole vaulting came with the development of fiberglass and carbon-fiber poles. Introduced in the early 1950s, they are lighter, stronger, more flexible and more responsive than earlier poles, allowing athletes to run faster, load and transfer more energy, and therefore jump higher.
Tom Warne, Northwestern University, Kansas Relays Record Pole Vault, 13-9.75 in 1930
Jordan Scott, Unattached, won at 18-0.50 in 2009
Current Kansas Relays record: 19-4.75, set by Joe Dial (Athletics West) in 1983